The First Department, reversing the suppression court in an appeal by the People, determined the handgun found during a search of defendant’s bedroom pursuant to a parole warrant should not have been suppressed. The parole officer testified she was searching a closet to see if defendant was hiding there when she felt a handgun in the pocket of a jacket she had seen defendant wearing:
In Huntley, the Court of Appeals “relied on the dual nature of a parole officer’s duties and a parolee’s reduced expectation of privacy to hold that a parolee’s constitutional right to be secure against unreasonable searches and seizures is not violated when a parole officer conducts a warrantless search that is rationally and reasonably related to the performance of the parole officer’s duties” (… see Huntley, 43 NY2d at 179, 181 …). “It would not be enough necessarily that there was some rational connection; the particular conduct must also have been substantially related to the performance of duty in the particular circumstances” … .
Applying this standard, we find that Parole Officer Williams, whose testimony the hearing court credited, acted lawfully in retrieving the firearm from defendant’s jacket pocket. While executing a valid parole warrant, and in the course of searching for defendant pursuant to that warrant, Williams inadvertently felt an object, that both she and her supervisor believed to be a gun, in the jacket pocket. Because parolees are not permitted to possess firearms, Williams’s discovery meant that defendant was in further violation of the conditions of his supervised release. Thus, the minimally invasive step of retrieving the gun from the pocket was “rationally and reasonably related to the performance of [her] duty as [defendant’s] parole officer” … . People v Jennings, 2019 NY Slip Op 05838, First Dept 7-30-19